She was accompanying her family bring her sister’s body home for burial

A tribal policewoman in her 20s was gang-raped by armed robbers on National Highway 75 on the outskirts of Latehar, 180 km from Ranchi, when she was accompanying her family members to carry her younger sister’s body from Ranchi to Garhwa for burial on Thursday night.

“Five people have been detained but the investigation is not complete yet,” said Latehar Superintendent of Police Michael S. Raj. No arrests had been made till Saturday.

The policewoman, her parents, her two daughters aged 3 and 5, two sisters and their husbands who had come from Chhattisgarh were travelling together. The car carrying the body of her youngest sister, who had been shot dead in Ranchi on August 20, was following them. They were stopped and looted by men armed with axes.

After looting Rs. 10,000 from her, three men made the woman come out of the car and took her to an isolated spot (where she was raped) even as three men held the family hostage inside the car. A constable in the district armed police, she had joined the police in April 2012 when the government had offered her a job on compassionate grounds after her husband was killed in an attack by members of the CPI (Maoists) on the convoy of Inder Singh Namdhari, an MP, in December 2011.

Since the district was carved out in 2001, Latehar police’s male personnel have been accommodated in the district teachers’ training institution building and policewomen in haphazardly built one and two-storey houses in nearby Dharampur. On Friday and Saturday, police officers visited the residents of Dharampur several times.

At the family’s rented single-room house, the policewoman’s father, a farmer in Garhwa, recounted the attack. “My wife and I got a call when we were in Garhwa that my daughter and her husband had been shot dead at their home, their 2-year old daughter had survived. We borrowed money and rented a Bolero and came to Latehar. My son-in-law’s body was taken by his relatives for burial to Singhbhum. We wanted to bring my daughter’s body to Garhwa because she had not visited home for so long,” said the quiet 50-year-old.

He said that as the car slowed at an incline near Jungledagga before entering Latehar town, where a robbery had occurred in July, they saw that the road was blocked with boulders. The robbers ordered the family to switch off the lights in the car and hand over their valuables.

“My sister was in the middle seat of the Bolero. She had malaria. She pleaded that we were bringing our sister’s body back. They threatened that if she resisted there would be even more deaths. We came back home and could not even think what to do next,” said her (another) sister.